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Wednesday, 13 January 2016 15:35

Greed behind nine-year embezzlement scheme, police say

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JANESVILLE -- When detectives first sat down with former Craig High School clerical worker Jessica L. Warner-Reed, they asked her if she knew why police wanted to talk to her. She gave them a one-word answer: "Greed," according to Janesville Police Chief David Moore.

In an embezzlement scheme that investigators believe stretched over nine years, Warner-Reed, 33, stole more than $300,000, according to Moore, who spoke at a news conference Wednesday.

Warner-Reed, of Janesville, will face charges of embezzlement of more than $10,000, misconduct in public office, 10 counts of forgery and six counts of tax fraud when she makes her first court appearance sometime before Jan. 25.

Janesville School District Superintendent Karen Schulte and school board President Kevin Murray also attended the news conference, but Schulte refused to answer any questions beyond a prepared statement, citing a request by District Attorney David O’Leary.

Warner-Reed turned herself in to police Tuesday to be booked, and in an arrangement made with her attorney, left on her own after an interview with detectives in which she confessed to the embezzlement scheme, according to Moore.

He admitted the investigation was lengthy.

"Going through nine years of financial records is a lengthy process, and we wanted to make sure we were correct," Moore said.

Moore said Warner-Reed removed cash over a nine-year period and on 10 occasions she made out a check to herself or her husband and deposited it in her bank accounts.

"She admitted stealing funds from Craig High School," Moore said. "She admitted to stealing the cash."

Moore said the investigation was perplexing because Warner-Reed didn’t live a flashy lifestyle. She used the money for housing, clothing, pet care and other mundane expenses, he said. Her husband was unaware of the scheme, he said.

To summarize, Moore said, she simply lived outside of her means.

Warner-Reed apparently had second thoughts several times throughout the years. She paid back about $21,000 on two occasions -- once in 2009 and once in 2013.

In the beginning, the amounts were small, but they increased over time.

Schulte said Craig Principal Alison Bjoin first became suspicious "early in 2015," which led to an internal audit last July, the same month police were informed.

Since then the school district has tightened controls on employees who handle money.

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